As it gets colder and darker outside we use more energy to light and heat our homes, resulting in a very expensive few months. If you are keen to save money on your energy bill this winter, there are a number of ways you can do this. The following suggestions include long-term improvements you can make to your home and short-term changes you can make to your daily routine.
The first thing to do is to check whether you can get a better deal on your energy from a different provider. There are many comparison websites out there that do the hard work for you. The best deals change from time to time, so it is worth rechecking the comparison websites on a frequent basis to make sure you are still getting the best tariff available. Very keen energy savers will chase the best deal, resulting in a regular change of provider. Although this requires a lot of effort, it could save you a considerable amount of money in the long run.
Make sure you are using the most cost effective lighting in your home. Replace your current light bulbs with an energy efficient equivalent. If you are unsure about how much energy your existing lighting is using, try using an Energy Saving Calculator to work this out. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) tend to be more pricey than Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs); however they last longer, and so are more energy efficient in the long run. Once you have installed the most cost effective lighting in your household, make sure you use it in a money-saving manner. Be conscious of how many lights you need on and switch off the lights in any unoccupied rooms. Use appropriate lighting, for example, use lamps when you are reading, ceiling lights if you are eating and dimmed light if you are watching TV.
Before it gets too cold ensure your heating system is fully functioning. This will require a proper service from your energy provider. If your heating system is more than fifteen years old it may be wise to replace it with a new, more energy efficient model. Once you are happy with your heating system make sure you help it to heat to do its job properly. To do this, seal any gaps and draughts around the house that may be allowing warm air to escape and cool air to flow in. Remove any items in front of your radiator so that they can heat the room well. Attach some radiator reflector foil behind your radiators to direct the hot air away from the wall and into the room. Use the timer, rather than the thermostat, to control your heating. Instead of being tempted to crank the temperature up using the thermostat, set your heating to come on earlier, but at a lower level. There are a number of apps available now that allow you to control your heating at home on the move. This is a good idea if you are prone to an unplanned session at the pub after work and wish to reset the timer. For longer term results, you may want to insulate your walls and roof and install double glazed windows.
Refrigerators use up a lot of energy because they are on all of the time. Save energy while using your fridge by maintaining an optimum temperature of between three and five degrees. To avoid your fridge reaching a higher temperature do not leave the door open for long periods of time and do not put warm food into it. It is important to keep your fridge as far away from heat sources as possible, so make sure it is out of the direct sunlight and far away from radiators. If you have an old fridge, you should think about it replacing it. Take the opportunity to research the most energy efficient appliances available.
Elsewhere in the kitchen you can save energy by cooking more than one meal in the oven at a time. Plan your meals at the beginning of the week and work out where you can double up. If you can cook your week’s meals by only using the oven three or four times, then you will shave a substantial amount off your next energy bill. Ovens are a good source of heat so when you are finished using it keep the door open, and it will help keep your kitchen cosy for longer. Don’t keep filling up your kettle and allowing the water to boil for one cup of tea. Fill the kettle with the required amount of water.
There is nothing worse than sleeping in an icy cold bedroom so make sure you prepare your bedroom for winter. Instead of being tempted to keep the heating on all night, buy yourself some warm winter nightwear. This may not be the most glamorous of ways to save energy, but it will ensure you have a good nights sleep. Replace your summer duvet with a thicker one and add an extra blanket to your bed to maximise warmth. Thick thermal lined curtains also work well to keep you warm at night. They add an extra level of protection from the cold in front of windows and doors. You can buy ready made winter curtains or sew in a thermal layer to your existing ones.
Use natural light. Make the most of your south-facing rooms by spending time in them while the sun is out and they are warm. Installing solar panels on to the roof of your home is a way of generating cheap and environmentally friendly energy. Solar panels can provide an average of 60 to 70 percent of your required electricity in a year. However, if you generate more than you need, you can sell your unused amount back to the grid. Although the installation of the panels may be pricey, in the long term it will reduce your energy bills. The solar panels function with light rather than heat so they will continue to work throughout the winter, albeit on a reduced scale.